Greenpeace stoush with fishing trawler

Greenpeace in high seas stoush with fishing trawler A high-seas drama unfolded when Greenpeace activists were “shot” at with potatoes when they targeted a New Zealand-based fishing boat for bottom trawling in international waters on the Tasman Sea on Tuesday.

Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner Carmen Gravatt, who was on board the protest boat Rainbow Warrior II, said activists delayed the vessel, the Ocean Reward, from deploying its net by attaching an inflatable life-raft.

She said crew from the Ocean Reward, owned by Nelson company Talley’s Fisheries Ltd, responded by shooting whole potatoes at the activists from compressed air guns and sprayed them with high pressure fire hoses.

Gravatt said nobody was hurt during the incident that happened at midday, about 560km west of the North Island.

Bottom trawling is when fishing vessels fish with nets by dragging them along the sea floor.

Huge chains or rollers attached to the front of the nets destroy everything in the their path, including coral forests, as well as sponges, worm tubes, mussels, boulder fields, and rocky reefs, Gravatt said.

Advertisement”This type of fishing is considered by scientists to be the greatest threat to deep sea biodiversity and every trawl does incredible damage,” Gravatt said in a statement.

“A global moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters is urgently needed to protect life in the deep sea.”

“Greenpeace is taking action against bottom trawling in international waters because governments have failed to establish a moratorium to stop the destruction,” she said.

“Every trawl we disrupt, we could be saving coral forests that took hundreds of years to grow.”

Talley’s Fishing head Peter Talley said he would not comment about the incident until he had spoken with the vessel’s crew.

Greenpeace also released a photograph of a giant piece of coral caught in a fishing boat’s net which it says highlights the destructive practice of bottom trawling.

The 2003 photo taken on board a New Zealand-registered vessel in the Tasman Sea off the North Island was obtained in the past week by Greenpeace from the NZ government through freedom of information legislation.

It shows crew untangling from their fishing nets a piece of gorgonian coral which the environmental group says is more than 500 years old.

Both the New Zealand and Australian governments do not support calls for an international moratorium on the practice, which is being discussed at an informal United Nations meeting on oceans issues in New York this week

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